Jones Act – State and Federal Proceedings

Tuesday, January 16, 2007
In an unpublished decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that it is inappropriate to dismiss an employer’s federal court action against an employee for breach of contract merely because it relates to a state court action brought by the employee against the employer for damages under the Jones Act. In the instant case, the employee was injured while working on the employer’s vessel. Following medical treatment, the employee signed a release and was paid $4,000. A year later, the employee brought suit in state court under the Jones Act. The employer then filed suit in federal court for breach of the release contract. The employee filed a motion to stay the federal litigation in favor of the state action, which the federal district court granted. The employer appealed. The appellate court held that a federal action may be stayed in favor of a state court action only in highly exceptional circumstances, none of which were present here. Transocean Offshore USA, Inc. v. Catrette, No. 06-30474 Source: HK Law

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